Belgium’s imec’s “Advanced RF” initiative is a pre-competitive research initiative to create roadmaps for devices, systems and networks beyond 5G and beyond 100GHz.

The program will investigate the use of hybrid ICs made of compounds and CMOS semiconductors to achieve very high bandwidth and energy efficiency at carrier frequencies above 100GHz. imec will seek multiple partners to fund and participate in this work and to co-create prototypes to demonstrate the potential of various circuits and systems. It is already part of the EU Taranto project, which produces compact 140GHz radio Modules that enable single-link data rates of up to 80 Gbit/s.

“There is still some discussion about the exact features and performance specifications on 6G, as the actual standardization work has not yet begun,” Michael Peeters, IMEC’s ​​vice president of connectivity domains, said in a statement to the R&D event. “However, it is clear that the next generation of wireless networks will significantly exceed the previous generation. Projected features include 100 Gbit/s single link throughput, microsecond latency and significantly higher energy efficiency – less than 1 nanometer Joke/bit.”

“We believe this is critical for enabling concepts such as federated learning between autonomous driving systems such as artificial intelligence (AI), other use cases include the deployment of ultra-fast, ultra-reliable mobile hotspots in dense urban centers, immersive Augmented reality (AR) applications and holography are supported.”

Silicon currently lacks the ability to transmit at the desired rate and energy efficiency, necessitating the addition of compound semiconductor circuits.

“New III-V materials, such as indium phosphide (InP), may offer a way out, but they have not yet been integrated on silicon platforms. Therefore, we will be looking specifically at hybrid III-V/CMOS approaches. We will investigate How to heterogeneously combine III-V materials with CMOS technology, how do these materials function in terms of reliability, what are the degradation mechanisms at work, etc. On the basis of these insights, we aim to create efficient, low-cost mobile Device Technology.-Efficiently operates at 100GHz and beyond.

Likewise, the current default choice for high bitrate interfaces, Orthogonal Frequency Domain Multiplexing (OFDM), may no longer be the right choice for 6G systems operating above 100GHz. More directional beams at higher frequencies can take advantage of spatial multiplexing more aggressively. Meshing and greater separation of data and control may be required.

“It is widely believed that future mobile networks will have to operate at frequencies above 100GHz in order to provide data rates of 100 Gbit/s or higher. However, so far, there has been a lack of a clear, mature path to the development of the underlying technology,” Imec CEO Luc Van den hove said, “Through our Advanced RF program, we aim to extend our reach beyond our pioneering role in semiconductors, providing insights and technologies across the entire connectivity ecosystem, not just enabling 6G aspects, but also for next-generation Wi-Fi communications.”

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